Greetings From The Republic of Beer! Budweiser Budvar Brand Refresh Spotlights Czech Heritage

Budweiser Budvar is launching a striking new design across all its packaging, as part of a brand refresh that puts the focus on the classic Czech lager’s authenticity and heritage, and proclaims its status as the flagship of ‘the Republic of Beer’.

The new identity, appearing on cans and bottles in the UK from July, takes its stylistic cues from the brewery’s archive, dating back to its founding in 1895, and features a classic colour palette inspired by the Czech flag. It will also be extended to a new draught design and POS support in the on-trade from September. 

On pack, the classic Budweiser Budvar branding is now framed above by an historic roundel for České Budějovice (or ‘Budweis’ in German), the South Bohemian city that traces its brewing origins back over 800 years, and where all Budweiser Budvar is brewed today.

Also given a strong focus are Budvar’s locally sourced, premium ingredients. These include whole-cone Saaz hops from Žatec, the Czech Republic’s renowned hop region; the finest Moravian malts, and 10,000-year-old natural soft water from an Ice Age aquifer 300m beneath the brewery. 

On bottles, the ingredients are highlighted on a new paper neck label, which replaces the previous aluminium foil wrap, making the bottles easier to recycle. 

The statement OWNED BY THE CZECH REPUBLIC frames the logo at the bottom of the bottles and cans, and celebrates Budvar’s continuing independence as a brewery. 

Supporting the new design is the positioning ‘Greetings from the Republic of Beer’, which will appear on everything from vibrant new POS to a programme of live sampling and experiential activity planned for the second half of 2020. 

Simon George, managing director of Budweiser Budvar UK, said: “Consumers are increasingly focused on authenticity in the food and drink they consume, and this first major brand refresh in a decade tells our unique story in a powerful new way to the growing number of UK consumers enjoying authentic beer. 

“We’re the only Czech state-owned brewer, a beer from a nation not a corporation. Both the rebrand and the new Republic of Beer positioning celebrate the Czech Republic as a unique and thriving beer lover’s paradise, and show how the art of brewing remains the proud heart of the Czech nation’s history and culture today.”

  • Budvar is available in bottles and cans in both 500ml and 330ml packs. It is also available on draught in the on-trade, as well as brewery-fresh from the tank in selected outlets.
  • More beer is consumed in the Czech Republic per head of population per annum than anywhere else in the world, making it the true Republic of Beer.
  • Brewing is woven into the fabric of Czech history and culture, with the brewery and the pub still the focal points of communities today.
  • As well as using locally grown ingredients and helping local growers and farmers, Budweiser Budvar proudly continues this tradition by supporting the emerging craft and microbrewery scene across the Czech Republic, sharing its expertise, brewery space and ingredients. 

FAB News caught up with Budweiser Budvar’ UK Managing Director – Simon George

What style of beer is Budweiser Budvar Original?

Budweiser Budvar Original is a Czech premium pale lager brewed in the Budweiser Budvar brewery in the town of České Budějovice. By the 19th century, lagers brewed in the town, called Budweis in German, were highly regarded and the provenance of “Budweiser”, when used to describe a beer, became a badge of quality.

How is Budweiser Budvar Original lager brewed?

Budweiser Budvar Original lager is crafted by our team of brewers, led by brewmaster Adam Brož, at the brewery in České Budějovice. It is made from locally sourced ingredients, supporting the area’s farmers, in time-honoured tradition since the brewery started 125 years ago. The ingredients include whole-cone Saaz hops from the Czech Republic’s renowned hop region, Žatec, the finest Moravian malts, and 10,000-year-old natural soft water from an Ice Age aquifer 300m beneath the brewery. Budweiser Budvar undergoes a lagering process in the brewery cellars over several months, far longer than most other breweries in the world, to give it its rich and distinctive flavour. 

Who is the Budweiser Budvar Brewmaster? 

Adam Brož is our current brew master, and just our tenth in 125 years. This is an amazing achievement as a brewery and highlights the longevity, commitment and belief of our team. There aren’t many industries with a labour turnover figure so low.

What other beers do Budweiser Budvar Brewery offer in the UK market?

The Budweiser Budvar brewery brews a range of authentic Czech lagers. As well as the flagship, Original, the brewery offers the following beers in the UK market:

  • Tankové Pivo or Tank Lager: This is the unpasteurised version of the Original lager. The beer is transported directly from the cellars’ lagering tanks in Budweis and is driven straight to one of the handful of exclusive “Tank” pubs in the UK. Tank lager is a beer that offers the drinker the closest experience to drinking fresh beer directly from the lagering tanks at the brewery. It’s fresh and recognisably richer in flavour.
  • Dark Lager: Inspired by a time when Bohemian beer was brewed with more roasted and dark malts, this outstanding and world-renowned dark lager sees all the quality, taste and brewing traditions of Budweiser Budvar Original blended with roasted Munich and Caramel malts. This adds a black coffee and dark chocolate depth to the beer’s colour and taste, while retaining the refreshing drinkability of the classic pale lagers. Rich, sweet, dark, bold and moreish. You don’t win ‘Best Dark Lager in the World’ numerous times by being average.
  • Kräusened Lager: Pouring a hazy, light gold, this unfiltered and unpasteurised draught-only beer is crisp yet richly full-flavoured. The name, pronounced Kroy-Zened, comes from Kräusening, a time-honoured Bohemian brewing technique where young fresh beer is added to a finished batch in the cellars, restarting the fermentation and letting the yeast work its magic to add soft, natural carbonation, creating a slightly drier finish and satisfying depth of flavour.
  • Nealko: No alcohol should not mean no flavour – quite the opposite. Just as with Budweiser Budvar Original, Nealko is brewed using celebrated Moravian barley for a bold, sweet, toasted malt profile, and the same Saaz hops for a lightly spiced, fresh, citrusy aroma with just a hint of bitterness. Rich, full-flavoured and always satisfying, Budweiser Budvar Nealko sees nothing taken away except the alcohol.
  • Fresh Hopped Imperial Lager: Brewed using the same recipe and techniques as the famous Strong Lager, this is one of the world’s rarest and finest special edition strong beers. Released once a year in late-spring, it is created using fresh ‘green’ hops, picked in the fields around Žatec, brought to the brewery the same day and added to the brew. Each batch is unique, making its flavour unique to that year’s harvest. The beer is aged for a minimum of 200 days in the cellars before being released as a draught-only exclusive into select venues. Rich, deep gold in colour with a noticeable malt profile and a wonderful honeyed sweetness.

What is the relationship between Budweiser Budvar and the US Budweiser brand?

There is no connection between the two. Budweiser comes from the German name of the city of Budweis which is where the Budweiser Budvar brewery was founded. Brewing in the city was officially recognised by royalty in 1265. Since that date České Budějovice (Budweis in German) has been synonymous with producing the finest quality of beer, any beer coming from the city would be known as a Budweiser style. 

We believe a style cannot be copyrighted – our beer is a Budweiser because it is brewed sourcing local ingredients in what was Budweis (in 2004 it was granted European Union Protected Geographical Indication, or PGI). Budvar only brews its beers in České Budějovice – we do not want to compromise the terroir of our beer – while AB InBev brews Bud under licence around the world.

Why is Budweiser Budvar owned by the Czech government?

The Budweiser Budvar brewery became state-owned when breweries were nationalised by the Czech Government in 1948. It remains proudly so today, a brewery with 10.7 million shareholders, owned by a nation, not a corporation. The Czechs drink more per capita than any other nation, making it the true Republic of Beer.     

What is the connection between CAMRA and Budweiser Budvar?

After the formation of the Czech Republic in 1993, the new government under President Vaclav Havel received approaches from a multinational corporation that wished to acquire the Budweiser Budvar brewery. The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) was amongst those who lobbied to keep the brewery independent, and in 2002, British beer writer Michael Jackson made an impassioned speech at the Czech Embassy in London, saying “guard the quality and you will not need to guard against foreign namesakes”. In fact, beer-loving Vaclav Havel needed little urging, and personally intervened to ensure Budweiser Budvar remained state-owned, as it is to this day. This close affinity between the Czech and UK beer cultures is highly valued, and an important part of Budweiser Budvar’s position in the UK beer sector. 

How is the new Republic of Beer positioning being communicated? 

The Republic of Beer positioning is now at the heart of the way we communicate the quality, heritage and authenticity of Budweiser Budvar. Consumers will be extended Greetings From  the Republic of Beer through POS in the on-trade and off-trade, through sampling events, including our striking new mobile Budvan, and through social media and online communications. We have made a multi-million euro investment not only in the brand refresh and planned activations but also in increasing the brewery’s capacity in terms of new packaging lines, brewing and maturation equipment.

Is there consumer research available on new packaging? 

Our research show that, regardless of whether the respondent already drinks Budvar or not, the brand refresh scores higher in its ability to attract consumers and encourage them to taste our beer. When asked, 83% of all consumers and 98% of those who already drink Budvar answered “yes” or “definitely yes” when asked if they were more likely to buy Budvar in the new packaging. Shelf appeal tests showed that all consumers were more likely to recognise and buy Budvar in its new packaging (Source: BBNC Research, September 2019).

Source: Budweiser Budvar

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